Baku, Azerbaijan (PortSEurope) November 11, 2020 – The agreed direct link between Turkey and Azerbaijan, secured in the ceasefire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, that ended the “six weeks war” for the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, will most likely follow the E002 road via Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan, then in Armenia along the border with Iran and will connect to Azerbaijan’s transport network. The E002,
part of the International E-road network, is a mountainous B class road that starts from the Turkish border with Nakhchivan and passes via a limited number of cities. Its use will give Turkey a land bridge to the rump Azerbaijan, and in future, direct access to Azeri ports on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan’s victory in the war gave it also a direct road link to Nakhchivan. Turkey was looking for such a strategic connection between its Black Sea port of Samsun and Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea port of Baku since the late eighties when Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding areas seceded from Azerbaijan and were taken over by Armenia during the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan bordering Armenia to the east and north, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest. Until today, Azerbaijan’s transport links to Nakhchivan were via Iran and a longer version via Georgia and Turkey. Now there will be a road link via Armenia that would allow direct transportation of goods between Turkey and Azerbaijan, and between the Turkish ports on the Black Sea and Azeri ports on the Caspian Sea, without crossing Iranian or Georgian borders. It is still unclear whether this corridor between “mainland” Azerbaijan and its exclave of Nakhchivan would involve any transfer of territory (between Armenia and Azerbaijan). Armenia would “guarantee the security of transport links…unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles, and cargo in both directions,” the ceasefire agreement said. According to media reports, the border guard units of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS) will control this corridor. The agreement also states that “by agreement of the parties, the construction of new transport communications connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Azerbaijan’s western regions will be provided”. But it is not clear whether this is going to be a road only for Azeri vehicles and cargo and whether the road is going to be Azeri or Armenian territory. In case such a road is under Azerbaijan’s control, this is going to create a “legal border crossing wall” between Armenia and Iran. Under the deal, Azerbaijan will keep territorial gains made in the fighting that started on September 27, including the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave’s second-largest and strategic city of Shusha/Shushi. NATO member Turkey, Azerbaijan’s main supporter and arms supplier, said the deal had secured important gains for its ally. Azerbaijan says it retook much of the land in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that it lost in a 1991-94 war in which about 30,000 people were killed. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2020.